With only one week left until applications for the Harvard-Allston Partnership Fund are due, the Harvard-Allston Task Force held a meeting on Wednesday to talk about Harvard University’s proposed developments in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood.
The fund, created by Harvard and the city of Boston with the Allston-Brighton community, invited nonprofits and programs that benefit the area’s residents to apply for six different $100,000 grants to support neighborhood development, culture and education in the area. The applications are due on Oct. 10.
“As a community partner, Harvard is actively engaged in educational and enrichment programming,” said Lauren Marshall, senior communications office of Harvard Public Affairs and Communication at the meeting. “The Harvard-Allston Partnership Fund is an important part of our ongoing commitment to the Allston-Brighton community and our shared effort to improve the local quality of life.”
Kevin Casey, associate vice president of Harvard Public Affairs and Communication, said the partnership benefits the entire community.
“Having Harvard’s assets be available to all sectors of the Allston community … provides tools for the workforce and education for the kids,” he said.
Harvard proposed a new fund at the meeting on Wednesday, the Public Realm Flexible Fund, to allot $2 million to fund projects chosen by the Allston community, the City of Boston and Harvard.
The concept is similar to the Harvard-Allston Partnership Fund in that it will take into consideration proposals outside of the confines of what Harvard is proposing, Casey said. Harvard also laid out a $28 million benefits package that will enhance community programming and housing in the Allston-Brighton area.
“Tonight, what we are introducing is a new component to that public realm plan which tries to take into consideration the fact that there will always be new ideas and opportunities for things to come up,” Casey said. “We are proposing to create a Public Realm Flexible Fund, a place where a variety of public realm and open space ideas that have emerged in the conversations of the task force.”
The construction also includes a crossing path over Storrow Drive that would enable residents to have safer access across the Charles River. Harvard already has its business school and athletic complex in the Allston area, and is expected to expand and start more projects in the area in late 2013 and early 2014.
Priscilla Anderson, a governing board member of the Gardner Pilot Academy in Allston, said she would be disappointed if the community changed.
“I think it will bring a lot more people and a lot more traffic and a lot more businesses and employment,” she said. “I think it’s very possible that the neighborhood could gentrify, and I would be disappointed by that because I love the diversity of the neighborhood.”
Some residents of Allston said they were wary about the intentions of Harvard’s expansion, but want to see how they could improve the area.
Barbara Melanson, 53, said she was excited for the improvements in education.
“There will be better education for the Gardner School and there will be more things for adults to do,” she said. “We’re on a little island. Everyone forgets about us over here. It would be nice to partake in things Harvard can offer without being a student at Harvard or working at Harvard.”
Tim McHale, 59, said the meeting could have focused on other topics besides the Fund Program.
“It [the meeting] was very strong on education and employment,” he said. “However, it was not as strong on housing or open space.”
Len Kelliher, 80, said the expansion would redefine the entire area of Allston-Brighton.
“It’s going to be an expensive place to live and limited for the people I care about, my family,” he said. “They [Harvard] are more interested in themselves. They are progressive and doing things that are good in the long run, but it’s not going to be the same quaint town it was.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that Harvard would spend $28 million on the Public Realm Flexible fund, when it actually was only $2 million. This article has been updated to reflect this correction.